E Visas for Treaty Traders and Treaty Investors
There are two types of employment related visas that are controlled by treaty: The E-1 Treaty Trader Visa and the E-2 Treaty Investor Visa.
E-1 Treaty Trader Visa
The E-1 treaty trader visa allows an individual to come to the U.S. for the purpose of furthering substantial trade that is international in scope. The trade must be primarily between the United States and the treaty country where the person holds citizenship.
E-1 Visa Treaty Countries:
Argentina, Australia, Austria, Belgium, Bolivia, Brunei, Canada, Colombia, Costa Rica, Denmark (does not include Faroe Islands or Greenland), Estonia, Ethiopia, Finland, France (includes Martinique, Guadaloupe, French Guiana and Reunion), Germany, Greece, Honduras, Ireland, Israel, Italy, Japan (includes Bonin and Ryukyu Islands), Korea, Latvia, Liberia, Luxembourg, Mexico, Netherlands (includes Aruba and Netherlands Antilles), Norway (does not include Svalbard), Oman, Pakistan, Paraguay, Philippines, Spain (applies to all territories), Suriname, Sweden, Switzerland, Taiwan, Thailand, Togo, Turkey, United Kingdom (applies only to British territories in Europe), and Yugoslavia (valid for new Republics that arose out of former Yugoslavia). Iran is also a treaty trader country, however the treaty is inoperative because of the Executive Order preventing trade with Iran.
In order for a business to qualify to utilize E-1 visas, the company must demonstrate that the U.S. business has created substantial trade between the U.S. and the treaty country. Trade is not limited to goods and services and must be principally with the treaty country.
This means that more than 50% of the total volume of international trade done by the U.S. business must be between the U.S. and the treaty country. If the U.S. entity is a branch office, then the foreign business must have more than 50% of its trade with the U.S.
At least 50% of the U.S. entity must be owned by non-U.S. resident nationals of the treaty country. If the company is publicly traded, the firm’s nationality is considered to be that of the country in which the firm’s stock is listed and traded.
E-2 Treaty Investor Visa
The E-2 treaty investor visa allows an individual to come to the U.S. for the purpose of furthering a substantial investment in a U.S. enterprise made by individuals or businesses that are citizens of a treaty country.
E-2 Visa Treaty Countries:
Argentina, Armenia, Australia, Austria, Bangladesh, Belgium, Bulgaria, Cameroon, Canada, Colombia, Congo (Brazzaville), Congo (Democratic Republic of), Costa Rica, Czech Republic, Ecuador, Egypt, Estonia, Ethiopia, Finland, France (includes Martinique, Guadaloupe, French Guiana and Reunion), Georgia, Germany, Grenada, Honduras, Iran, Ireland, Italy, Jamaica, Japan (includes Bonin and Ryukyu Islands), Kazakhstan, Korea, Kyrgyzstan, Latvia, Liberia, Luxembourg, Mexico, Moldova, Mongolia, Morocco, Netherlands (includes Aruba and Netherlands Antilles), Norway (does not include Svalbard), Oman, Pakistan, Panama, Paraguay, Philippines, Poland, Romania, Senegal, Slovak Republic, Spain (applies to all territories), Sri Lanka, Suriname, Sweden, Switzerland, Taiwan, Thailand, Togo, Trinidad & Tobago, Tunisia, Turkey, Ukraine, United Kingdom (applies only to British territories in Europe), and Yugoslavia (valid for new Republics that arose out of former Yugoslavia).
In order for a business to qualify for an E-2 visas, the company must demonstrate that a substantial investment in the U.S. business has been made by individuals or companies that are citizens of the treaty country.
In order to be considered a substantial investment, the funds must be “at risk” (i.e. capable of being lost by the investing individual).
Whether the actual amount invested is substantial depends on the type of business and is weighed based upon a variety of factors.
In addition, the investment must not be “marginal” (i.e. made solely for the purpose of earning a living).
At least 50% of the U.S. entity must be owned by nationals of the treaty country in order to qualify for an E-2 visa.
Applying for an E-1 or E-2
Before an individual can apply for an E-1 or E-2 visa, the company in the United States where he or she will work must become E-1 or E-2 qualified.
An initial request to qualify the U.S. company for E-1 or E-2 status must be filed together with at least one individual’s E-1 or E-2 application at the U.S. Embassy or Consulate that has jurisdiction over the treaty country.
Once the company is E-1 or E-2 qualified, any nationals of the treaty country who will work for the qualified U.S. entity may apply for E-1 or E-2 visas at the appropriate U.S. Embassy or Consulate.
Once the company is E-1 or E-2 qualified, an individual who is a national of the treaty country can apply for an E-1 or E-2 visa if he or she is coming to work as an executive or supervisor, or an essential employee.
The individual does not have to be employed by the company abroad in order to qualify for E-1 or E-2 status.
Relatives and Duration of Stay
E-1 and E-2 visas can be issued for up to five years and are renewable indefinitely as long as the company and the individual continues to qualify for E-1 or E-2 status.
Upon each entry to the United States, E-1 and E-2 visa holders are generally granted two years of E status on Form I-94 as long as the E-1 or E-2 visa is valid at the time of entry.
Spouses and dependent children under 21 of E-1 or E-2 visa recipients are also eligible for E-1 or E-2 dependent visas. Moreover, spouses of E visa holders are eligible to apply for employment authorization after they enter the United States.
E-1 or E-2 nonimmigrants who do not plan to travel internationally may apply to extend their status for up to two years by filing an application with the U.S. Citizenship & Immigration Services.